Getting your first kitten or cat

When making the decision to bring a new cat or kitten into your home, there are many things to consider to ensure that it’s the right decision not only for you and your family, but also for the new pet.

Make sure that all family members are keen to have a new furry friend at home, and assuming everyone is on board, be clear that each understands the needs of a feline addition. Cats and kittens can initially require quite a lot of your time to settle them in, to help them to socialise and to get them into a healthy routine, at home and with their veterinary checks. Whilst most cats settle into an independent lifestyle, caring mostly for themselves, they do require owners to keep a keen eye on their wellbeing.

Choosing your new pet and introducing it to your home

Before heading into ownership, decide whether you’re keen to home a kitten, or if an older cat would be more fitting for your family and lifestyle. If you feel up to the almost certain chaos of a kitten, they can be lots of fun and give back so much love and enjoyment that they can make the perfect addition to the family. However, older cats, with their personality already determined can provide a steady, loving companionship and generally fit quickly into your homelife with little fuss. Both have their benefits, and it is about finding the most suitable option for your situation.

When visiting your possible new pet, there are a few things you should perhaps look out for to make sure they are in good health before you agree to adopt.

A healthy cat will have:

  • Bright eyes
  • A clean nose
  • A healthy, shiny, clean coat
  • Clean teeth
  • Clean bottom
  • Be of a good weight
  • Display energy and playfulness

Look out for:

  • Signs of weepy eyes
  • Discharge from ears
  • Worms or signs of diarrhoea around its bottom
  • Underweight
  • Lethargy

Ask the owner to see their vaccination card, find out about their flea and worming regime and establish if they have been neutered.  Once you have assured yourself that your new pet is in good health and ready to move into its new environment, take time to prepare that environment.

Things to consider for the introduction of the cat to your home:

  • Provide a clean, comfortable bed.
  • Always have a clean litter tray prepared.
  • Ensure supply of suitable cat food (can be dry and wet) along with access to clean water.
  • Provide a stimulating environment to encourage play and exercise.
  • Have the necessary grooming tools for your type of cat.
  • Ensure the environment is safe from toxic plants and any other household hazards.
  • Ensure access to a safe garden if you decide your cat is going to be an outdoor cat.
  • Provide plenty of human companionship, especially in the early weeks of ownership.

Health checks, routine treatments and vaccinations

Once you have satisfied yourself that all of the above checks and preparations have been made, you’re all set to move on to some of the important health checks, routine screens and vaccinations required to keep your cat in robust health. Always ask the existing owner for a full health record and the date that their next checks are due; or obtain the details of their vet, so that these can be passed onto your vet of choice.  Once you have found a suitable vet surgery convenient for you and your cat, consider booking an initial appointment to discuss ongoing routine care.

Regular checks & appointments should include:

  • Vaccinations (including an annual vet health check)
  • Worming
  • Flea treatments
  • Dental checks and cleaning

Also consider a pet health plan to help spread the cost of preventive care and to ensure you stay on top of these checks. Health plans are separate and different to pet insurance, so please consider this, too. There are many options of health plans and pet insurance, make sure you choose the right plans for you and your pet.

Read more about the affordable options offered here at The Pet Vet.

Microchipping your cat

Following a recent announcement from the Government, within the coming months, microchipping domestic cats will become compulsory under a new wide-ranging animal welfare plan, in line with the legal requirements for dogs. The rules for cats will be introduced bringing them in line with the requirements for dogs. Veterinary surgeries are used to advising on this procedure and will talk you through the process. It is inexpensive and has many benefits. There will be an enforcement process for those who do not comply.

The decision to seek out a feline friend

Once the decision has been made to seek out the perfect feline friend for your family, there are a number of options to explore when looking to find the ideal pet for your home, and each has its merits.

Adoption/rehoming of an older cat

Adopting an older pet will bring pure joy in the knowledge you have given a forever home to a worthy animal. So many cats await rehoming, it is certainly a worthwhile and rewarding option to explore. There are numerous organisations that can provide the most helpful advice if this is an option for you. Most organisations are registered charities and work tirelessly to ensure the welfare of the animals they take in is of utmost priority. You can expect all vaccinations to be up to date, the pet to have been neutered and it’s health record to be spot on.

Committing to a kitten

Rehoming a kitten can be a fun and exciting experience. They will grow up in your home environment and be completely emersed in your family life from the very early stages of its life. There are, however, many considerations to owning a kitten; initial veterinary health checks, vaccinations and neutering. Not only that, but kittens are also not the easiest of animals to train, though they usually pick up the correct habits if provided with the necessary care kit around them. Kittens are often sought from friends and family and their backgrounds known. However, if you choose to rehome a kitten with an unknown background, take care to undertake the responsible background checks too.

Selecting a breeder

If you decide you would like to select a particular breed of kitten and would prefer to research a breeder, there are some handy tips to bear in mind when making your selection. A reputable breeder will be able to provide all the background information of the parents, as well as their health status and details of that of the litter. If they are breeders of a pedigree kitten, they will be registered with the GCCF. Always check for reassurance.

Responsible breeders will invite you to visit the kittens ahead of any decisions being made and will explain the importance of socialisation and initial care for your kitten. On any visit, you will get a sense of the standard of care the breeder provides; cleanliness of the environment and a safe space for the mum and her litter. Usually, a good breeder has a waiting list, but this may not always be the case. Do your homework, it pays off for all concerned.

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